The Messy Business of the Falklands War of 1982
The Messy Business of the Falklands War of 1982

The Messy Business of the Falklands War of 1982

Larry Holzwarth - February 23, 2020

The Messy Business of the Falklands War of 1982
HMS Antelope in San Carlos Water before it was destroyed by an Argentine bomb. Wikimedia

22. Port Stanley fell to the British in June

The British cracked the defenses surrounding Stanley on June 13, and the Argentine forces which remained took up positions in the town proper. Neither side relished the idea of urban combat, which would have undoubtedly caused civilian casualties, which both sides had tried to avoid during the conflict. Early on June 14 the contending armies agreed to a ceasefire. The Argentine garrison agreed to surrender, and did so that afternoon. Six days later the British accepted the surrender of the Argentine garrison at Corbeta Uruguay, which controlled the South Sandwich Islands. Following that surrender the British declared hostilities to be at an end.

The Welsh Guards sustained the most fatalities suffered by a unit of the ground troops during the war – 33. Of those, 32 died during the attack and evacuation on Sir Galahad. The Royal Navy’s largest single loss was the 22 killed aboard HMS Ardent. In total 255 British servicemen died in the war, and 777 were wounded or injured in accidents. The Argentine dead was totaled at 649, including 16 civilians. The British suffered civilian casualties as well. Three Falkland Islanders were killed by friendly (British) fire. The Argentines sustained 1177 non-fatal casualties throughout the conflict.

The Messy Business of the Falklands War of 1982
HMS Invincible returned to Britain and huge celebrations after the war. Defense Imaging, Royal Navy

23. The Falklands War boosted the Conservative Party in Great Britain

The end of the war and the successful retaking of the Falkland Islands by the British created a surge of patriotism in Great Britain. Proposed cuts to the British Navy were abandoned. Margaret Thatcher enjoyed a period of increased popularity. The Conservative Party increased its majority in Parliament in the ensuing general election. The opposite effect was felt in Argentina.Loss of the Falklands (called Malvinas in Argentina) led to protests and demonstrations against the ruling military junta. Argentina restored a democratic government in 1983. Diplomatic relations between the two nations weren’t restored until 1989, and neither side changed its position over sovereignty of the islands.

The war remains one of interest to military planners. Although the casualty numbers seem low at first glance, as a percentage of the total number involved, they were high. The vulnerability of ships to anti-ship missiles startled the navies of the world, and defensive systems against them were improved, with newer systems developed. Argentina continued to claim sovereignty over the islands into the 21st century. It retains the claim today, though in 2009 the British Government announced there would be no further discussions of the matter. Of the 229 world economies ranked by the CIA in 2010, the Falkland Islands were listed at 222. Perhaps that’s why Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges described the Falklands War as “two bald men fighting over a comb”.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The Malvinas War of 1982: An Inevitable Conflict than Never Should Have Occurred”. Joseph S. Turchin, Latin American Research Review. 1987

“Help was weeks away as 88 men waited in the Falklands dark for 3,000 invaders”. Miles Goslet, The Telegraph. April 1, 2007

“30 Years since the Falklands War”. Alan Taylor, The Atlantic. March 30, 2012

“Argentina Invades Falkland Islands”. Staff writers, The Age. April 3, 1982

“Margaret Thatcher showed no reaction after order to sink Belgrano ship during Falklands War, papers reveal”. Andy McSmith, The Independent. June 18, 2015

“Falklands Invasion ‘Surprised’ Thatcher”. Peter Biles, BBC World Affairs. December 28, 2012

“Falkland war zones bolster UN case for a law of the sea”. Louis Wiznitzer, Christian Science Monitor. April 14, 1982

“Air War in the Falklands”. Carl A. Posey, Air and Space Magazine. September, 2002

“Belgrano, 25 years on”. James Sturcke, The Guardian. May 2, 2007

“Revealed: Catalog of failings that sank Falklands warship HMS Sheffield”. Ian Cobain, The Guardian. October 15, 2017

“Falklands War: SAS role in the conflict”. Peter Jackson, BBC News. May 4, 2012

“Falklands War: The Time British and Argentine Aircraft Carriers Nearly Fought to the Death”. Sebastien Roblin, National Interest. July 6, 2019. Online

“Exocet missile: how the sinking of HMS Sheffield made it famous”. Ian Cobain, The Guardian. October 15, 2017

“The Battle for the Falklands”. Max Hastings, Simon Jenkins. 1983

“Margaret Thatcher papers: BBC ‘assisted the enemy during the Falklands War'”. Tom Rowley, The Telegraph. June 18, 2015

“Offensive Air Operations of the Falklands War”. Major Walter F. Dehoust, Marine Corps Command and Staff College (United States). April 2, 1984. Online

“‘As the blast hit the ship, all hell broke loose'”. Crispin Black, The Telegraph. June 6, 2007

“Troops surrender at Port Stanley”. David Fairhall, Paul Brown, Jeremy Morgan, The Guardian. June 15, 1982

“The Long Shadow of the Falklands War”. Robert Farley, National Interest. Online